Every business owner is aware that solid relationships are important to the longevity and success of their business.  However, a recent research report by the CIPD in association with CIMA, KPMG, Linklaters and Tomorrow’s Company, has shown that in tomorrow’s business landscape, relationships, internally and externally, will become vital.

The report, ‘Tomorrow’s Relationships – Unlocking Value’ takes an in-depth look at how, in our ever changing complex, competitive and connected business environment, mutually beneficial relationships can really drive the success of our business and capitalise on the intangible assets that make up 80% of its corporate value.

Through using a four step model identified by the report, senior leaders can drive a relational approach within their business, by:

  • Identifying key relationships
  • Tuning into relationships
  • Measuring the effectiveness of relationships
  • Reporting on the effectiveness of relationships

Advocates of this approach such as John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Tesco are using this model to build better businesses, though each of them has a slightly different focus.  For Marks and Spencer, their focus is on the relationships with their customers created by their brand, whilst John Lewis are looking more at how their Constitutional requirements drive the building of honest and ethical relationships with customers and suppliers.

What they all agree on, is that in order for the relational approach to business to be successful, it must be driven from the top at Board and Senior Management level.  Business leaders should act with consistency in thought and action, so that the behaviours necessary for the building of strong relationships is embedded in the culture of their organisations.  The report provides both a toolkit and roadmap to help business leaders get started.

Whilst the building of relationships is not new, the report highlights that often, businesses fail to step back and look at all of the relationships that they require to have.  Stakeholder management and engagement have taken businesses so far, however, in order to build a business resilient enough to face even the toughest economic challenges, a more integrated and focused approach is required.